Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Tetragonia spp. Kōkihi. New Zealand spinach.
FAMILY: Aizoaceae Ice plant family
BOTANICAL NAME: Tetragonia tetragonioides Also Tetragonia implexicoma (syn. T. trigyna)
PREVIOUS NAMES: Tetragonia trigyna (T. implexicoma )
MĀORI NAME: KŌKIHI, rengamutu, rengarenga, tūtae-ika-moana (all in Williams 1971)
COMMON NAME: New Zealand spinach T. tetragonioides; New Zealand climbing spinach T. implexicoma
MEDICINAL: Leaves used by Cook as an antiscorbutic. (Goldie 1905).
Leaves have anti-ulcerogenic activity, anti-inflammatory activity, and antioxidant phenylpropanoids including caffeic acid. (Cambie, Ferguson 2003)
Related pharmacology and chemistry in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987.
FOOD: Many sources record the use of the green leaves as a vegetable.
''It was first brought into notice by Capt. Cook, who found it useful as an antiscorbutic. The Natives use it as food, it is chiefly found in low swampy grounds near the sea, and is easily propagated from seed; it is perennial''' (Taylor 1847). Many sources record the use of the green leaves as a vegetable.
DYES: Crimson juice of the berry used as ink (Colenso 1869a).
Kōkihi is a red berry, but is not edible. Used to see the children stain their faces with it (Tunuku Karetai, to Beattie. MS 582/E/11, Hocken Archives, Dunedin).
''It has a red berry from which a red dye could be made, but the dye was not permanent, only lasting a certain time. The berries were merely soaked in water and squeezed to make the dye. In recent times the berries have ben used to make a red ink for the Māori children to rule their school lessons.''
''A good many years ago some women tried the experiment of being tattooed with the red juice from the kokihi berries. One of my oldest informants had seen some of them. The red effect was startling and looked well but did not last, fading away after a number of years'' (Beattie 1994)